Russell Crowe’s private Sistine Chapel tour has locals fuming over one detail

People were quick to point out something Crowe should not have done during an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the Sistine Chapel. Photos / Twitter

Earlier this week, Kiwi-Australian actor Russell Crowe was gifted something few other people in the world have ever experienced: a private tour of the Sistine Chapel.

Unsurprisingly, not everyone is pleased.

Yesterday, the Gladiator star shared photos on Twitter and expressed how thankful he was for the opportunity to walk through the halls of the Vatican Museum, sans tourists.

“I’m not sure there’s a more special privilege in the world than to hold the key for the Sistine Chapel and to experience it’s glory in silence,” he wrote.

Crowe was invited with his family, something he described as “a very special experience” which included exclusive access the typical person would not get.

“We were given access to rooms, perspectives and parts of the collection you don’t get to see as a regular tourist,” he wrote.

“My mum had walked these corridors with my father 20+ years ago with the thousands of tourist that flock here daily and make it the third most popular museum globally,” he wrote.

“As we squeezed into a tiny private elevator and ascended to a balcony few get to see, she squeezed my hand and said ‘I wish your father was here’.

Crowe ended the tweet on a heartfelt note, urging people to love on their parents if they were still alive

“If you’re lucky enough to have your parents around, look after them. Call, visit, show them love,” he wrote.

‘No photo!’ say Italians

There is no doubt the once-in-a-lifetime tour was special, but not everyone was pleased with Crowe’s special treatment or with what he did with the privledge.

Currently, the top comment on the post is from DailyMail reporter Savanna Young, which reads: “Thought you weren’t allowed to take photos inside the chapel.”

One user offered an explanation. “You are not, unless you’re privileged, not even the church is equal with people…”

Another local chimed in, writing: “Non si possono fare foto, o almeno, noi umani normali non possiamo [You can’t take pictures, or at least we normal humans can’t].”

The iconic artwork that covers the ceiling of the Chapel is awe-inspiring but only for looking. Photography or video is strictly forbidden.

In the initial tweet, Crowe included the phrase, “sono al servicio di Roma,” which translates to ‘I am in the service of Rome’. Yet, one user said it looked like the opposite.

“It seems to me, however, that Rome is more at your service for now,” they wrote.

Others were quick to jump to Crowe’s defence, attesting to his good character and saying he was worthy of the experience, especially after his work in the film Gladiator.

“Normally I would agree with this type of complaint of privileged treatment,” one person wrote. “But this man, Russell Crowe, has given Rome more than they could ever pay him in a lifetime by making Rome a more, it already was, important holiday destination.”

“You are truly blessed & I can’t think of another person more deserving of such a privilege,” added another.

The real reason you can’t take photos in the Sistine Chapel

You may think it’s because camera flashes can damage the artwork and this is true, but it’s only half the story.

The other main reason is because of a Japanese television network called Nippon.

As an artwork that took Michelangelo four years to complete and is now five centuries old, one can imagine how much it would cost to restore and renovate.

So, when Vatican officials began planning to do just that in 1980, they needed a way to cover the $4.8 million it would cost.

Nippon Corporation stepped in and agreed to cover the expenses (which ended up being $6.7 million today). In return, they got exclusive rights to photograph and record videos of the Sistine Chapel.


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